When Isabella (Bella) Garcia was only four months old, her mother noticed something strange – while changing her diaper and standing her up on her feet, Bella leaned to one side more than the other. Since Bella had been born with torticollis and plagiocephaly, conditions that are known for being paired with hip issues, she was a doctor herself and the mother of two other children, Cristina Garcia felt that it could be a sign of something more serious and took Bella to her pediatrician.
After a routine exam by their pediatrician showed none of the more common signs of hip dysplasia like a hip click, the pediatrician ordered an x-ray. Soon after, Bella’s father, a pediatric pulmonologist, decided to consult with his colleague, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hip dysplasia. The orthopedic surgeon performed the x-ray and an ultrasound on Bella and found the she did in fact have hip dysplasia. Since Bella was still young, the orthopedist prescribed the Pavlik harness for Bella and gave it a 95 percent chance of success. While the Garcia’s were happy to know that their daughter was likely not going to have surgery, they did quickly find out that life in a Pavlik harness is not always easy.
The Pavlik Harness
Lucky for the Garcia’s, Bella adjusted to life in the Pavlik harness quite quickly, however, the same may not be said for the rest of the family. Bella had to spend three months in the harness for 23 hours a day, which meant finding new and creative ways to dress her, change her diaper, and even fit her into a high chair, car seat or stroller. It also meant that she had to travel in the harness to weekly doctor appointments, on errands and even on the family vacation, and this often caused people to stare at her as if something was wrong. Her brother and sister had to learn how to hold her while she was wearing the harness, and her mom and dad wondered if she might have developmental delays.
Despite the struggles, which eventually became their new normal, Bella’s treatment with the Pavlik harness was successful and she moved on to the Taco brace, which is much easier on baby and family. After treatment with the Taco brace was complete, Bella continued to develop on a similar timeline as other kids her age. An x-ray when she was two showed no signs of hip dysplasia and her next x-ray will be at age 10.
Seven Years Later
Bella Garcia is now seven years old, and in first grade. She is very active and participates in gymnastics, cheerleading and loves art. She enjoys spending time with her sister (13), brother (10) and their new puppy Teddy. Sometimes looking back at photos of her in the Pavlik harness, she gets sad but then claims that it was because of her hip dysplasia that she is now so flexible.